By: Tricia Cornell
I think a lot of parents my age can relate to this: When I was a young teenager — too old for a babysitter, too young for a job — “summer camp” meant a list of chores left on the kitchen table and a reminder to defrost the chicken in time for dinner. A good day involved a bike ride or a swim at the local pond. A bad day involved a full slate soap operas and an argument with my sisters about who forgot to defrost the chicken. Although I’m sure I whined about the start of school each fall, the return to structured days was a relief.
There is something to be said for the virtues of boredom. There are certainly many kids in this generation whose lives are so structured they never get a chance to get bored, which means they never get a chance to get un-bored under their own creative steam. As I learned as a 13-year-old, however, easy access to mindless entertainment squashed a lot of possible creativity. And that was when we only had four channels.
If your tweens and young teens are going to be fending for themselves this summer, they may need some gentle nudges toward more creative, active uses of their time. We’ve come up with a few ideas, but these are meant to be just the beginning. The best kind of summer project is long-term, with several discrete steps, and feeds your children's sparks.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave a list of chores on the kitchen table. Some traditions should not be forgotten.[Related: Summer Splash Challenge: Activity Ideas to Keep Your Kids Engaged All Summer Long]
Bonus Activity: If you're up for a real challenge, try spending a whole day in silence - Okay, this one isn’t a long-term goal. But you never know what kind of creative ideas for the rest of the summer you might come up with while you’re not talking. You might feel silly, or you might feel peaceful. What other ways can you challenge yourself to think differently? A whole day (or more) screen-free? A whole day outdoors? A day (or a weekend) without riding in a car?Tell Us: Do your kids stay at home over the summer months? How do they stay busy (or not)? _________________________________________________________________________ 1. Image via The Daring Librarian on Flick'r.